LONDON, ENGLAND — Agriculture is a shining light in an otherwise challenging economic landscape in Ukraine. At a conference in London, England on Sept. 15, international investors, government representatives and leading agribusiness companies from Ukraine discussed how they could bring even more investment in the country’s agriculture sector, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) reported on Sept. 15.
The event was jointly organized by the EBRD and the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food for Ukraine.
Oleksiy Pavlenko, minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, called on investors at the conference to be part of Ukraine’s agribusiness success story, to be part of his country’s future.
“Ukraine is facing huge challenges this year but we are committed to speed up reforms, cut through red tape, fight corruption and create the right environment for businesses to invest,” said Pavlenko.
Ukraine had ambitious plans to drive these reforms forward more quickly, he added.
“It is not easy to get a positive news story from Ukraine today but agribusiness certainly has a good story to tell,” added Alain Pilloux, EBRD managing director for Agribusiness, Commerce and Industry.
As Gilles Mettetal, the EBRD director for Agribusiness, said in an article published by the Financial Times just ahead of the business forum, Ukraine’s economy may be battered but its agriculture is enjoying a period of record exports, defying geopolitical challenges and the conflict in the east of the country.
Despite losing control over some of its territory, Ukraine has retained its place as the world’s largest exporter of sunflower oil and was the third largest exporter of grains in 2014-15. Ukraine’s agriculture, which has shown overall growth during the past 15 years, is an industry worth $13.5 billion according to the ERBD.
The EBRD, the largest financial investor in Ukraine, has long been an active investor and policy dialogue participant in the sector. It has invested over $1 billion in agribusiness in Ukraine over the past five years and attracted an additional $110 million from commercial lenders.
The EBRD’s agribusiness portfolio amounts to around $780 million and it is continuing to invest strongly in the sector, with a business plan exceeding $330 million for 2015.
Events such as the business forum hosted by the EBRD in London are a regular feature of its work in Ukraine to create opportunities for dialogue between the private and public sectors in the country.
This conference focused on issues ranging from taxation to bank liquidity and land reform. It underscored just how important this dialogue is in contributing to the success of the industry.